Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wish You Were There: Summer Camps with Writers

Dear Kim,

I miss you.



It's been too long since I've written.

Too long since I've written to you and WAY too long since I've spent quality butt-in-chair time on my work-in-progress. Instead, my butt has been at camp, actually at camps for the last five weeks. I started with a group of super talented picture book creators.

Each year Pat Cummings and Denise Fleming host a SUPER BOOT CAMP for picture book writers and illustrators at the Highlights Foundation. This year Pat and Denise brought along Steve Light, Floyd Cooper, Neal Porter, Marcia Wernick, and Patti Ann Harris as their guests. It was a heck of a good time filled with very serious moments like this:



Okay so that one wasn't quite so serious. Denise is set to launch her book Five Little Ducklings this fall. The Pringles were her idea. Along with humor, our mentors gave loads of advice to help navigate the rough waters of this business.



Following Super Boot Camp I made my way to Summer Camp at the Barn. We hosted twenty-five children's book writers: poets, novelists, essayists, picture book writers, nonfiction writers, and even a song writer or two. Our faculty held daily one-on-one sessions with our writers to work on development of story ideas and revision strategies. We even squeezed in a field trip and S'mores (because really what is summer camp without S'mores?)



Kathy Erskine kicked off Summer Camp with a keynote on authenticity. The topic seemed to permeate every conversation, critique, and speech that followed. We heard from Lamar Giles (more on his breakout later...it was EPIC), Mitali Perkins, Jan Cheripko, Susan Campbell Bartoletti (her DIY revision session is a future blog post), Peter Jacobi, Jillian Sullivan, and Clara Gillow Clark. Later in the week, Jessica Echeverria of Lee and Low, and Adriana Dominguez of Full Circle Literary answered our burning questions about the business of publishing.




The remaining days of July were filled with our Family Reunion, which is a lot like camp, and my annual camping trip with my grade school friends (three decades of friendship is best celebrated in the woods). Camping brings us closer together. Maybe it is the lack of quality internet? Or the earthy nostalgia of campfire filling the air? Whatever the reason, this camper loved her time in the woods with writers, family, and friends.

I'm happy to be home now and ready for an August filled with writing.
I can't wait to see you soon!
Much Love,
Alison